Szirtes-Titiaan
Titiaan 'Diana en Actaeon' 1556-9

Actaeon

George Szirtes

O, my America, my Newfoundland
John Donne, Elegy 20

O, my America, discovered by slim chance,
behind, as it seemed, a washing line
I shoved aside without thinking -
does desire have thoughts or define
its object, consuming all in a glance?

You, with your several flesh sinking
upon itself in attitudes of hurt,
while the dogs at my heels
growl at the strange red shirt
under a horned moon, you, drinking

night water – tell me what the eye steals
or borrows. What can’t we let go
without protest? My own body turns
against me as I sense it grow
contrary. Whatever night reveals

is dangerously toothed. And so the body burns
as if torn by sheer profusion of skin
and cry. It wears its ragged dress
like something it once found comfort in,
the kind of comfort even a dog learns

by scent. So flesh falls away, ever less
human, like desire itself, though pain
still registers in the terrible balance
the mind seems so reluctant to retain,
o, my America, my nakedness!

Szirtes-Titiaan
Titiaan 'Diana en Actaeon' 1556-9 detail

Ter gelegenheid van de Olympische spelen toont de National Gallery in Londen drie schilderijen van Titiaan uit zijn reeks 'metamorfosen'.
Het betreft de volgende schilderijen:

·         Diana en Actaeon 1556-9
Olieverf op canvas 184 x 202 cm

·         De dood van Actaeon 1565-76
Olieverf op canvas 178 x 198 cm

·         Diana en Callisto 1556-9
Olieverf op canvas 187 x 204 cm

Ter gelegenheid van deze expositie zijn veertien dichters verzocht te reflecteren op deze schilderijen. Het bovenstaande gedicht is een van deze veertien gedichten, de anderen zijn:

Patience Agbabi, Simon Armitage, Wendy Cope, Carol Ann Duffy, Lavinia Greenlaw, Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, Frances Leviston, Sinéad Morressey,  Don Paterson, Christopher Reid, Jo Shapcott, Hugo Williams.

In mijn KunstKolom over de doorwerking van de metamorfosen in de beeldende kunst kunt u meer lezen over deze expositie,  de metamorfosen, Titiaan e.v.a..

George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He trained as a painter - Chagallian, for want of a more accurate description - at Leeds, and has published six books of poetry, the most recent of which, Bridge Passages, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize in 1991.